A-Level Music gives young musicians an opportunity to hone their craft and build a greater appreciation of the art form they have grown to love.
The flexibility within the course allows us to gear our teaching to students’ interests while also introducing them to new music. The structure of the course is as follows:
Appraising Music (40%) There are seven areas of study: Western Classical Tradition, 1650 – 1910 (compulsory); Pop Music; Music for Media; Music for Theatre; Jazz; Contemporary traditional music; Art Music since 1910. Candidates must to listen to and appraise extracts from the set works, and show their knowledge and understanding of the context and methods of composition.
There are specified works within each area, e.g. the Western Classical Tradition focusses on the Baroque Concerto, Mozart Operas and Romantic Piano Music. Within each of the other areas, there are named composers/artists, such as Stevie Wonder, Muse, Stephen Sondheim, Claude Michel Schönberg, Louis Armstrong and Shostakovich, to name but a few.
Performance (35%) requires a performance of at least ten minutes, which are recorded and marked externally according to a grid which considers the level of difficulty, technical control, expressive qualities, and the overall quality of the performance.
It may be a solo recital or playing within an ensemble. The standard of performance required is at least grade five, though success at higher grades is desirable.
Composition (25%) requires two compositions. One is composing to a brief, with a number of options with different stimuli, such as a poem or other text, a picture or film clip, a notated beginning (e.g. a chorale melody). The other will be a free composition, where the candidate is free to explore any genre and style they wish. Both compositions must be notated in an appropriate form (e.g. stave notation, graphic score, lead sheet, etc), and they must be performed and recorded.
GCSE Music is good preparation for A-Level, as it uses the same basic structure, but it is not a prerequisite. Music is a highly sought after A Level for many of the most competitive university courses as it promotes resilience, confidence and creativity.